Police are using unmarked ‘supercabs’ to catch out motorists committing offences on the nation’s motorways. Following a week of action on the M1, collisions have dropped by a third…
Police are using unmarked, HGV supercabs to catch out motorists committing offences whilst behind the wheel; including using their mobile phones. Three custom-built Mercedes-Benz Actros trucks were purchased by Highways England back in 2018 for police use. The higher vantage points means police can easily spot motorists texting or failing to use a seat belt; it also makes it easy to spot HGV drivers, usually protected from detection thanks to their own raised positions. During a ‘safety week’ in May all three supercabs were deployed. The number of recorded collisions fell from 90 the previous week to 64; the fourth lowest figure in 2019 and and the second lowest outside of school holidays. In total, the supercabs were used to catch 200 offenders committing offences on motorways; hundreds of others were issued warnings and advice.
It seems that Highways England has been pleasantly surprised by the supercabs’ success. Richard Leonard, head of road safety at Highways England said, “we’ve been really impressed with the results of our week of action on the M1 which shows how making little changes to the way you drive can make a big difference to safety on our motorways.” He added, “our HGV supercabs helped the police identify almost 200 dangerous drivers who could have caused collisions if they hadn’t been pulled over, and our safety tips at motorway services and in the media also helped to make the M1 safer for everyone.”
However, PC Dave Lee from the safer roads team at Northamptonshire Police was more concerned by the number of motorists flouting rules. He said, “it’s always disappointing to catch drivers breaking the law.” Earlier in the year, police released footage of a lorry driver holding his credit card at the wheel whilst trying to make a payment via his phone. Fortunately, such instances seem to be rare, “with a high number of motorists observed throughout the operation, these figures show it’s a small minority who continue to commit these types of offences.” The ‘supercab’ tactic isn’t just being used on motorways. Police forces have also begun to deploy officers on double decker buses in towns and cities. But despite increased penalties for mobile phone usage, offences have actually risen over the years. Whether the need strategy will work long-term or not, is still unclear.
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